It's Sunday afternoon and you're trying to prepare lunches and meals for the week but the kids won't give you any peace. A good animated movie, some science lessons or just some Sponge Bob might be the perfect antidote for that nagging toddler. If you don't have an extensive cable package or a DVD collection, that isn't strewn all over the house, it might be difficult to find something for them to watch. There are a few solutions to make sure you're not stuck in the middle of a meltdown.
Chromecast and YouTube
Cost: YouTube app is Free, Chromecast approx. $49 CAD
I've blogged about the Chromecast previously. It's perfect when you're in a pinch for something to watch. Fire open your laptop, iPad or Android device, load up YouTube and search for some kids content. Ideally find a playlist that last 30 minutes or more. Start the playlist and cast to your Chromecast. Here's a kid safe channel playlist to get you started.
You can also use this to stream educational content!
Plex with/without Chromecast
Cost: Plex is Free, Chromecast approx. $49 CAD
Plex is a fully fledged home media solution and really easy to get up and running. It consists of the "Media Server" and the "Client". The media server must be installed and run on a laptop or home computer (supports Mac and PC). Download the Server from the Plex website.
You can then install Channels from the Channel directory. There are quite a few in there and the PBS Kids is a good option. Find out how to install Channels on the Plex website. Plex also has lots of learning channels such as the Ted talks and the Khan Academy for inquisitive little minds.
Also, if you have already ripped your DVD's to your computer you can have Plex index your files for ease of access. This will happen as part of the Setup Wizard process when you install Plex Media Server. You can also download a Plex App for your Phone/Tablet and cast it to your Chromecast.
Access your content anywhere
The beautiful thing about Plex is that it allows you to access your content from anywhere. The Server you installed lives on your computer at home is accessible from anywhere. You can access your content using a web browser by logging into you Plex account at http://plex.tv/web. From there you can see all of your content from home right on a web browser. You can also watch your content on your Mobile device using the available apps for Apple and Android. Imagine you're on a road trip, or out and about and want to keep the kids entertained, simply pop open the app on your phone, load up their favourite show and press play. It's that simple.
XBMC with iStream
XBMC is one of the best media centre software solutions out there. It can be installed on a plethora of devices including your PC or Mac. It's simple to install, below are two videos, one for installing on Mac and the other on Windows.
Install XBMC on Mac OSX
Install XBMC on Windows
iStream - watch any TV show, any movie, any time
Once installed you'll need to download and install the iStream plugin giving you access to 1000's of movies including kids animated movies like Rio, Cars, Toy Story, Kung-fu Panda, the list goes on. XBMC also has a wide range of plugins available for educational purposes.
Cost: $99, some Channels/Apps may cost money (99¢ - $3.99)
The Roku is probably one of the best streaming media devices on the market right now. It has lots of Kids channels/apps available that should be enough to keep them busy. It also comes with some games and the remote doubles as a controller which should appeal to kids that are a little older.
Installation and setup is very simple. Just follow the steps in the video below
As with all cutting edge technology there can be hiccups during setup and also along the way. If you need help or support with anything I've outlined above I am available for help online. It usually involves a phone/skype call and a remote desktop session where I configure things for you while you watch and ask questions etc.
Call Toll-free 1-866 456-7842 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have further questions or would like to talk about some other custom options that might work better for you, I offer a consultation process that is designed to help you find a solution that fits your needs.